Journal to reduce Anxiety

One of the issues that many people are struggling with during the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Covid-19 restriction ,is coping with overwhelm leading to anxiety.

Each of us has an inbuilt survival and self-protection system which resides in the reptilian portion of our brain. Its main purpose is ensuring our safety and maintaining our survival.
It is usually only triggered when the body signals “Fear”, such as if we are walking home late at night alone for example.
But this survival mechanism can get fired during periods of anxiety or fear, especially if this is experienced over a long time.

At the moment, many of us are experiencing varying degrees of fear of the unknown – which is what Covid-19 represents. As we know, fear isn’t rational by nature, but is conversely an automatic trigger that fires in our brains as mentioned above.
This leads to a flood of continuous analysis, where the brain tries to assess the danger and take evasive action. When this trigger or switch is repeatedly thrown without resolution, our emotional system gets overwhelmed and thoughts of a negative outcome flood our brain and we end up thinking them repeatedly.
If this state of overwhelm and negative thoughts continue without relief, we end up being in a constant state of anxiety anticipating doom at any moment.

  • This is exhausting, it causes us to generate other difficulties too – such asInterrupted sleep patterns
    Repeated negative thoughts
    Breathing difficulties
    Increasing bad temperament
    Racing thought patterns and a general feeling of being unwell on a physical, emotional and mental level. This serves as a strong propellant of our growing anxiety levels.

So, the first thing to note is that this is all happening because our body systems are tapping into the reptilian part of our brain which governs our survival. So you aren’t doing this to yourself, its an automatic function of the part of your brain which is hard wired to protect you.

There are many useful things we can do to help ourselves in this situation…such as:

* Controlling your Breath.
* Meditation
* Using Affirmations – such as “This too shall pass”
* Journaling

All of these actions give us the opportunity to “Get Back In Control”, which will automatically reduce our anxiety levels.

In this article I want to focus on journaling. How to journal and why it helps you to reduce anxiety and increase clarity.

Journaling is broadly about writing in a journal, recording your thoughts,  ordering your thoughts and starting to gain clarity. This will help you to plan ahead and get clear about where you are now and where you want to go.

I recommend initially to sit with a journal and start by simply allowing yourself to write whatever comes into your head without pre-editing. In other words just allow your mind to empty onto the pages. The purpose here is to get all those repetitive thoughts from your head onto the page. This gives relief from constantly thinking them over and over. If you only do this, you will experience a relief and a lowering of your anxiety level.

If you do this first thing in the morning, before you even get up, or in the middle of the night if you cant sleep, it will relieve your anxiety levels. You don’t even need( in fact I recommend you don’t ) read what you have written  as this may only re-trigger anxiety. The purpose is to relieve your brain from continuing to think these thoughts repeatedly.

Next you can set about focusing on what is most important for you to achieve today. This can be as simple as deciding if you need to rest, to work, to call a friend or whatever is now clear to you is important. Anxiety muddles our thinking  blunts our ability to make even the simplest decisions. So let your body speak to you, let your emotions speak and listen. Then decide what needs your attention the most now, and write down some simple steps you can take today towards achieving that. There is nothing like clarity and action to ease anxiety.

If you do this daily, or three times a week whatever works for you, then you can see your progress and build from there.

Journaling can be used in this way to regain control over your life, your feelings and you start to see tangible results. Remember, if at first you don’t succeed then just start again tomorrow. Over time you will see results and before you know it your anxiety will be under your control.

I journal for anxiety reduction, but I also do it to control my emotions during a depressive episode, which I can suffer with due to chronic back pain. There are many advantages to journaling and many uses it can help you with such as decision making, improving focus, putting things into perspective and many more.
I hope this article helps you and if you need further help in coping with anxiety or other life difficulties I provide online coaching to individuals for personal and business purposes. Check out my website for further details and booking your personal session.

Yvonne Clarke

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